December 1st, 2005


Local, global or online?

Is this blog a UK site? I'm in the UK (well, most of the time) but the server isn't, so no. Is Simon's IT PhaseChange blog a UK blog? By the same reasoning, no. Which means that Seekport - which has just announced it's added blog search for UK and European blogs - doesn't find us. It doesn't let you look for blogs specifically thought it marks them in the results with an icon, and it finds and a few of my writings - including the sadly defunct and the page for sending my piece for Computing about the telco market in 2003 After the dotcom hype comes the consolidation to a friend, but not the actual article itself, and a single Guardian feature.

Should it find our blogs because we're UK bloggers on an international site? (rhetorical!) How many UK bloggers use LJ, or Blogspot, or Blogger, or MSN Spaces, or WordPress &etc? I'm guessing it's a fairly high proportion. Sites like Technorati don't discriminate against group blogging sites - Dave Sifry says he likes them because the HTML is cleaner! - so you can find LJ blogs through tools that specifically search blogs. Finding UK and European blogs is a good feature - because while for blogs I don't usually care where you are if I respect what you say if I'm interested in, say, Dell customer service I'd rather hear UK horror stories than US Dell Hell. But it's going to take a lot more work to spot what's a UK blog, not just a UK hosted blog.


Is it free? I'll take two.

"Free is the lowest barrier to entry for acquiring a product."
Sun President Jonathan Schwartz

But acquisition isn't everything. If it's free, a lot of people will try it but open source software has always been about being free as in speech, not free as in beer; or as Microsoft has taken to putting it "free as in puppy". Businesses can't afford to pick something because the acquisition cost is low if building with it and working with it is more difficult or time consuming than something with a higher up-front cost. You have to be both free and good. And in this case, able to front up against Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, BEA and successful open source projects like JBoss. I'd be much more interested if the Java core was going open source too.

Web page reading

"Looking at a company’s homepage is like reading its palm. Yahoo’s relatively static, but crowded, homepage suggests infighting beneath, as corporate departments battle it out for lucrative positioning. Too many Fortune 500 homepages suffer from the same malady. They reflect too much of the dysfunction behind the scenes, and not enough of the companies’ intended brand messages."
Is your homepage immature?

Whether it's because of business necessity or a business that doesn't know what it actually does (some businesses make more money out of a sideline than what they think of as their core business), Web sites often spew out everything about the company at the same level. Gogle's the exact opposite; hoever many new tools they launch, the one thing everyone knows they do - search - is literally at the heart of the page. Less is more...

Metaphor; it's like a simile but different.

From a press release today. "Miracle Dry Wash ( ) is a remarkable new product set to revolutionise the way we clean and polish our cars and motorbikes, in the same way that computers have revolutionised the way we communicate with one another."

As it doesn't use transistors, IP networks, WiFi, a mobile phone, electricity or any other technology that could possibly be involved in email, I don't think it works "in the same way" somehow. Car wax with embedded smart dust? Nope. And they don't need to tell me that washing a car is too much like hard work for us girlies, or suggest that slipping on the wet pavement next to the car is an accident waiting to make this gunk sounds interesting. I actually like the idea of gunk that you wipe on, leave to dry and wipe off with all the dirt trapped in the gunk, especially if it gets off sun-baked sap, but the press release doesn't do the product any favours. Tell me it's high tech; but tell me why.
full steam ahead

YABS: yet another blog search

Well, not quite. Chris Pirillo's site is a metasearch service with a simple interface designed for mobile users. Not only does it have a nice clean look with just a search box and a drop-down menu for the type of search (photo, blog, kitchen sink...); you can also construct the search in the URL. Instead of going to and typing in Flex Builder you can go straight to Want some photos of Mount Rainier? Dashes separate words; a dot in-between says you're searching for a phrase. Results come out as RSS so you can re-use them as a feed or piped into a gadget (side note: IE 7's search box will use the A9 OpenSearch spec for syndicated search results, which should move result re-use up a level). It searches all the usual suspects, plus welcome extras like Flickr and plenty of search tools I've never heard of. Very nifty, very elegant.